Woodstock, VT – Building healthy soils and resilient fields; creating comfortable, safe, and clean homes for cows; and running efficient businesses are the pillars of any successful dairy. Understanding the minds, reasoning and purchasing habits of consumers can be challenge for time-strapped farmers. It’s why reconnecting with those audiences was much of the focus of New England Dairy’s 2019 Annual Meeting.
More than 80 farmers from across Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Eastern New York gathered in Woodstock, Vermont to hear annual updates from their region’s promotion and education group.
“Each year our annual meeting gives our staff the opportunity to connect with farmers from across our region, to update them on our activities and the work we’re doing on their behalf,” explained Jenny Karl, CEO, New England Dairy. “From interacting with and educating our consumer audiences; to our support in New England schools, our staff plays an important role in telling the farmer story.”
The organization’s 2019 annual meeting featured presentations from staff members and program experts. Farmer delegates also heard from Lucas Lentsch, Executive VP, United Dairy Industry Association; Heather Oldani, Executive VP Corporate Communications; and Stan Erwine, Senior VP Farmer Relations; both of Dairy Management Incorporated (DMI) – learning about the activities of the national dairy checkoff organization.
The annual meeting also emphasized better understanding of New England consumers and their thoughts, attitudes and dairy perceptions. Now more than ever consumers crave connection to where their food comes from and how it’s made. The meeting included a moderated, in-person consumer panel to bring these consumers to life by answering questions about dairy products, nutrition, and farming practices.
“The consumer panel held at our 2019 Annual Meeting was a fantastic opportunity for farmers in the room to get a true glimpse into the minds of the consumers we depend upon to buy our dairy products,” explained Heidi Dolloff, Vermont dairy farmer and Chair of the New England Dairy board of directors. “To better understand how consumers are feeling, where they may have concerns, help us have more meaningful conversations with them that address their questions and doubt.”
Dairy Farmers Neal Rea (Cambridge, NY), Deb Erb (Landaff, NH), and Andrew DeLaBruere (Derby, VT) have retired from the Board of Directors. Three new directors have joined the board: Rob Wheeler (Wilmington, VT) Michael Barnes (Mount Upton, NY), and Michael DesJardins (Plainfield, CT).
2019 was a year of evolution for New England Dairy. Extensive consumer and partner research steered a rebranding process for the organization which saw its two branches, New England Dairy & Food Council and New England Dairy Promotion Board, joined publicly under one name. The rebranding enhances New England Dairy’s ability to be informative, approachable, and engaging. From consumers to school nutrition directors, health professionals, and farmers – the rebrand enhances the organization’s ability to deliver dairy information and education in the most authentic, direct, and experiential ways.
New England Dairy works to champion dairy in the region by working with local dairy farming families to tell their stories, share health and wellness information, and support local schools. The group strives to be agile, innovative and informative on all things dairy and dairy farming.
The organization will celebrate its 100–year anniversary in June 2020. Stay up to date on the New England Dairy’s activities by following along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – and log onto the group’s new interactive website: NewEnglandDairy.com.
New England Dairy is supported by the dairy farm families of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont and Eastern New York.